Rolf Benirschke had an illustrious 10-year career as the placekicker for the San Diego Chargers before retiring as the third most accurate kicker in NFL history. He received numerous awards including The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, NFL Player Association Hero of the Year, and the NFL’s most prestigious award, the Byron “Whizzer” White award and played in the Pro Bowl. In 1997, Rolf became the 20th player inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame.
During his third season, Rolf was struck with ulcerative colitis, an intestinal illness that required major abdominal surgery and nearly cost him his life. He returned to play for seven more seasons and created Great Comebacks, an ostomy patient support program that provides support and inspiration for ostomy patients around the world. Twenty years after his surgeries, he would discover that he had contracted the hepatitis c virus from blood transfusions and underwent three, year-long treatments before finally getting rid of the virus.
His experiences as a patient and having grown up with a world-renowned scientist and medical school professor as a father led him to found Legacy Health Strategies a patient engagement company, as well as The Grateful Patient Project.
Rolf has authored three books, including his autobiography, Alive & Kicking. He also currently works with UCSD Health helping to transform their culture and patient experience and speaks to audiences around the country on the importance of the indomitable spirit, culture, connection, and the patient experience. He also serves as a patient advocate for state/national legislation and is a champion for ongoing research and innovation.
Devotion to philanthropy is a large part of Rolf’s life. He supports numerous organizations including the Zoological Society of San Diego, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, the San Diego Blood Bank, and is the Chairman of the Rolf Benirschke Legacy Foundation.
Rolf and his wife, Mary, have four children, Erik, Kari, Tim, and Ryan.
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